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Implicit but Not Explicit Affectivity Predicts Circadian and Reactive Cortisol: Using the Implicit Positive and Negative Affect Test


  • This research was facilitated by the Graduate School Integrative Competences and Well-Being funded by Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (Grant 772/3). Study 2 was part of a larger project that aimed at investigating diverse issues, such as the relationship between attachment and cortisol regulation. Data concerning that topic are intended to be submitted elsewhere. The authors thank Thomas Künne for his assistance in data collection and preparation. Moreover, we owe a debt of gratitude to the action editor, Michael D. Robinson, for his useful suggestions on methodological, conceptual, and editorial issues related to this work.

concerning this article should be addressed to Markus Quirin, Department of Psychology, University of Osnabrück, Seminarstraße 20, 49069 Osnabrück, Germany. E-mail:


ABSTRACT Self-report measures assess mental processes or representations that are consciously accessible. In contrast, implicit measures assess automatic processes that often operate outside awareness. Whereas self-report measures have often failed to show expected relationships with endocrine stress responses, little effort has been made to relate implicit measures to endocrine processes. The present work examines whether implicit affectivity as assessed by the Implicit Positive and Negative Affect Test (IPANAT) predicts cortisol regulation. In Study 1, implicit low positive affectivity, but not negative affectivity, significantly predicted circadian cortisol release. In Study 2, implicit negative affectivity, but not positive affectivity, significantly predicted the cortisol response to acute stress. By contrast, cortisol regulation was not predicted by self-reported affectivity. The findings support the use of implicit affectivity measures in studying individual differences in endocrine stress responses and point to a differential role of positive and negative affectivity in baseline versus stress-contingent cortisol release, respectively.

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